Top News

Senate committee says Nova Scotia fish farming misunderstood

A Nova Scotia fish farm.
A Nova Scotia fish farm.

OTTAWA, ONT. - Fish farming in Nova Scotia is often misunderstood and the federal government should take steps to help educate the public about its safety.

That’s what a new Senate report on the  aquaculture industry released Sept. 19 says avoyt the province’s aquaculture industry. The report, carried out by the Senate committee on fisheries and oceans, says the aquaculture industry in Nova Scotia is one of the most diverse in the country and offers plenty of opportunity to grow due to the large amount of coastal waters. In fact, the report recommends aquaculture double in size in Canada within a decade.

 In Nova Scotia, the main species farmed are Atlantic salmon, Atlantic char, rainbow and steelhead trout, Atlantic halibut, blue mussels, clams, oysters and aquatic plants, including Irish moss, seaweed and dulse.

 Most of the Atlantic salmon production is carried out by one company – Cooke Aquaculture – which has established hatcheries, grow-out sites, processing plants, a feed mill and equipment manufacturing.

Its salmon production is what causes the most public concern, senators found. Most of that concern, the committee says, is misguided.

 “What struck us during our study was the amount of contradicting testimony in relation to the environmental impacts of aquaculture,” says the report. “Where some witnesses were stating one thing with certainty, while others would state the complete opposite. . .with certainty!”

 The senate committee said contradictions are often the result of the generalization of certain facts rather than sound conclusions pulled from scientific research.

 It used the issue of sea lice on farmed salmon in Nova Scotia as an example.

 “During the public hearings in N.S., the committee often heard witnesses express concerns about the use of sea lice control products,” says the report.

“They noted that these products harm their local marine environments as well as non-target species.”

 However, the report pointed out, over the past 10 years, there haven’t been any sea lice treatments in Nova Scotia, because sea lice levels are below levels where treatment is necessary.

 The report recommended the federal government compile a database of information, easily available to the public, in order for it to be assured that all aquaculture producers are complying with laws and reporting issues.

 “Government can also contribute to social acceptance by publicly recognizing best practices and demonstrating industry legitimacy.”

 It also recommended the federal government establish a new act – the Aquaculture Act – to govern all aspects of the industry.

In Nova Scotia…

Aquaculture is worth almost $60 million dollars to the province’s economy.

 Atlantic salmon accounts for 75.8 per cent of the industry; trout makes up 34 per cent.

 Mussels, oysters and clams make up about eight per cent of fish farming revenue in the province.

 Other shellfish account for 12.3 per cent of the industry.

Recent Stories